Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Anxiety & Dragons

If you've been around here long enough you've seen me write about my mental illness--I have General Anxiety Disorder--which means, essentially, my fight or flight goes off a fair bit more than usual and doesn't always need a reason. I've been taking medicine for over 20 years and it makes things a lot better and I'm one of the lucky ones.

My gaming group from 1991 to about 2006 was fairly stable and had up to 11 players at any given time. We were all fairly young and there was a lot of drama--almost constant drama--all of the time. If I'm honest with myself I created the majority of the drama because my mental illness was not being treated nor had it been diagnosed. For various reasons my self-esteem was intertwined with being the group's Game Master and also its "leader"--more like a "group mom" really. As my Anxiety increased my decisions became worse and the drama got worse as well. It was a dark time in my life as I took something I loved and was supposed to be fun and twisted it up.

Things got better after 2006, for a variety of reasons, but much of it has to do with the medicine I was on as it was very, very effective. Not all meds are created equal and everyone is very different in how they interact. 

I have always had Gamer ADD but after starting this medicine it mostly disappeared which allowed me to start this blog and eventually run several long-term campaigns including at levels 1 to 20 DnD 5E one.

Almost two years ago that medicine stopped working--the truth is it worked for about 12 years which is a remarkable amount of time--and while the new medicine is pretty good it doesn't handle the Gamer ADD as well and some of the old feelings have bubbled up.

At my worst, I was both obsessive and paranoid and my fight response was far more dominant than my flight response so I was a raging bitch sometimes. Thankfully, a combination of coping mechanisms and experience let me see the behavior as it starts to bubble up again but it doesn't remove the emotions.

The emotions are recurring because we've just finished an excellent 5E campaign after almost 2 years and I just assumed that I would run next. However, I didn't share my assumption with anyone and another DM did communicate their desire to run. This DM is a great friend and a great DM but a part of me feels hurt because I wasn't asked to run. Obviously, this is an immature response fueled by my mental illness and there is absolutely no real issue here. My group is filled with wonderful and kind people and we have a great time together.

This situation is compounded by the fact that I'm starting a Roll20 5E game and some of the players don't know if they can commit yet but sadly my anxiety tells me that I'm not a good DM and they just don't want to play in my game because they don't like me. Again, these are wonderful and good people involved and there isn't anything sinister about any of their situations.

I'm writing about this because I try to be very open with my mental illness and I'm just letting people know it's okay to talk about it and realize that you can beat it. I've felt fragile and been really low before, to the point that I considered suicide and I just want everyone to know that you are important, you are stronger than your illness, and the world is a better place with you in it. Don't kill yourself, there are good people out there for you, you can be diagnosed, you can be treated, and you are not the exception to recovery. 

My situation probably isn't unique and the best thing I think I can do is to enjoy the new campaign as a player and just be flexible with people's schedules for my Roll20 game.


Unknown said...

You are awesome. You are loved. You run fantastic games, but you are also a fine player. I feel privileged to get to play in your games, but also to play alongside you. You help make other people's games better.

Tim Knight said...

Thank you for that very honest and frank insight into your struggles with mental illness.

You are not alone, I can relate enormously to much of what you said (my depression was brought on my near death experience and I remain well medicated since then, but still have my fluctuations, mood swings, insecurities etc).

Brutorz Bill said...

Thanks for sharing this. Your openness and honesty is appreciated and helpful to others.
Hang in there!

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